Despite our best intentions to serve healthy meals, more than one parent will admit that it can be difficult to nurture a child’s taste for vegetables or limit their sugar intake. What’s a parent to do? Experienced moms say go stealth! Grab your blender; here are six sneaky ways to pack in some extra veggies or reduce your child’s daily sugar intake.
Try Spaghetti and Meatballs with a Twist
Serving tomato sauce? Whether it’s homemade or from a jar, steam some vegetables then whiz them into your sauce with a blender or food processor. Vegetables like chopped peppers, carrots, and spinach are almost undetectable in pasta sauce.
What’s more: You can hide almost any veggie inside a meatball. Whenever you prepare ground beef or turkey, toss in some grated vegetables like carrots, beets, or zucchini. They add a mild flavor, lighten the texture, and up the nutritional ante. (This also works for burgers on the grill!)
Mix Mashed Cauliflower into Mashed Potatoes
Here’s a tip that will fly under the radar: puree some steamed cauliflower in a blender or food processor then stir it into mashed potatoes. Mashed cauliflower contains half the calories of mashed potatoes, plus vitamins C and K, folate, fiber, and potassium.
You may even want to try swapping mashed potatoes for cauliflower all together; many people find that the taste and texture of mashed cauliflower is comparable.
Dilute 100% Fruit Juice with Sparkling Water
Certain fruit juices can be a healthy part of your child’s diet after age 1, but too much juice can contribute to weight gain and tooth decay. If you choose to give your child fruit juice, choose 100% fruit juice instead of sweetened juice or juice cocktails. Ogden Clinic’s Dietitian Rina Jordan suggests diluting fruit juice with water or sparkling water. Your child will still get the sweetness of juice and enjoy some bubbly carbonation.
Combine Health Cereal with Sugary Cereal
No parent likes watching his or her child eat a bowl of sugar pellets and then bounce off the wall for two hours, but very few children enjoy sitting down to a bowl of plain bran cereal. It seems like there’s very little middle ground. The solution: Combine them! In small amounts, sugary cereals aren’t terrible for kids, and they can go a long way toward making less appealing whole-grain cereals easier for them to eat.